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WildStar - PAX 2011 Impression


WildStar Online

WildStar is an MMORPG that was just announced about a week and a half before PAX, at Gamescon, and it has hit the ground running. The developerís floor display was eye catching, and I found myself drawn to it early Friday morning. After talking with one of the studio reps for a bit about the game, they turned me loose in WildStarís demo to run amuck Ė and I had a blast!

In WildStar, the players are a group of intergalactic travelers that have arrived at Planet Nexus, home to an ancient (and vanished) civilization. The travelers have split into two competing factions, and are out to claim, explore, and learn about their new home. The game features a blend of futuristic technology while still retaining classic fantasy themes, and I found myself rather fond of the visual style - cartoony, with an almost anime feel to it, and well drawn and smooth without any glaring blockiness. I also enjoyed the spunky attitude Carbine Studios has instilled in their game Ė there were a lot of little quirky moments that made me grin, from dialogue to some of the powers.

The demo allowed the player to select one of three pre-made characters. Carbine, the gameís developer, has said there will be eight races and several classes, as well as full character customization. The demo also allowed players to choose from two of the gameís four paths. The path system is something new to me, and it provides players with a set of side quests based around a theme as they progress through the game. The Explorer path sends players to out-of-the-way locations, showcasing the wilds and rewarding players who enjoy seeing the hidden places in zones, finding the underground waterfalls and sweeping vistas. The Soldier path, as may be expected, is for players who want to focus on combat and it gives them missions defending NPCs and vanquishing monsters. The other two paths, Scientist and Settler, were not available in the demo. The Scientist path was explained as one focused on studying creatures and objects in the new world, delving deeper into the lore of WildStar, while the Settler path is all about interacting with and helping other people throughout the game. Since the paths consist of side quests, they do not have a lasting impact on the nuts-and-bolts stats and mechanics of a character, but provide thematic experiences to help players enjoy the game and settle into their chosen role.

In game, the controls were fairly standard, and it wasnít long before I was running, jumping, and dodging around yetis. The combat system was quick and fun, and it rewarded players who could react to tells Ė dodging away from an AoE or interrupting it with a push or a stun not only saved you the damage, it gave a small XP bonus as well. I played as the Esper, a psychic mage that could throw telekinetic blades from far ranges. As the character I was playing leveled up, she got the ability to smash things with a giant psychic fist, which was quite enjoyable, and to make monsters explode (also very fun!), all while still at low levels. I also spent some time peering over the shoulders of people playing the other two classes, and they looked like they were having fun as well. One of the other classes was the Spellslinger, a dual-pistol gunman that incorporated some arcane attacks, and the other was the Mercenary, a more traditional melee fighter that started the game with a powered sword. All three worked with unique class mechanics, giving each class in the game its own play style.

I didnít get to play long enough to really dig into the story within the game, but the bits I did uncover have me looking for more. Obviously, this is early in the gameís development, and there are a lot of things Iíll be looking for that are just promises at the moment. This game certainly feels like it has potential, though. I hadn't heard of WildStar before PAX weekend, but the game has a solid spot on my watch list now.

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